Nurse, Orthopedic & Trauma Ward

Carmen Teh Yik Mun, 2002, 5Sc7

As a nurse, you hold an “international passport” – the nursing license. This passport can provide a bright future, and unlimited options to work around the world. This is the only job in the world with vacancies at all times, regardless of the economic situation. I’m not here to promote my job, but I’m here to tell you that…

Even if you were not a spectacular student in school,
you can still succeed in life.

Currently, I work in the orthopedic (muscle & skeleton related) and trauma ward. Most of my patients have met with accidents (motor-vehicle or industrial), been assaulted, sustained fall or sports related injuries; others have orthopedic conditions.

My job deals with pain / wound management and post surgery rehabilitation. At present, I am the senior nurse specializing in orthopedic nursing and infection control. Therefore, I have to handle all major dressings (e.g. big surface wounds, fractures and external fixators). I find this job challenging because trauma cases turn over faster than medical cases. What this means, is that MORE patients are admitted and discharged from the trauma ward than normal medical / passive wards.

Of course, in addition to those duties mentioned above, I also serve proper diets, clean buttocks, empty urinals and assist in minor procedures (e.g. applying casts, suturing of wounds, insertion of chest tubes and even intubation in respiratory arrest cases).

Lastly, I am also involved in teaching in two areas. (1) Clinical teaching to new staff and students who are attached to the ward. (2) Orthopedic teaching to hospital staff regarding usage of orthosis and management of special orthopedic cases.

So, to summarize, my daily duties consist of nursing care, pain/wound management, supervision of staff, and teaching.

Click here to read about my journey.

My Journey

I think that my life, compared to others, is simple. I’m Carmen Teh, my friends use to call me Ah Teh. I am a so-called science stream student. I didn’t have spectacular results, and am glad that I managed to graduate from school.

After years of studying and working,
I have come to realize that
your future is not related at all, to whether you are from the science or arts stream.

Once you come out to work, the learning starts all over again.

Today, I am a nurse. I graduated from a private nursing college (Lam Wah Ee Nursing College, Penang) with a diploma and completed a Bachelor Hons in Nursing Science from International Medical University Malaysia. At present, I practice in one of the private hospitals in Ipoh. Subjects selected during secondary school didn’t really help me much during my nursing studies. I was always absent during chemistry class, not physically, but psychologically. I never passed chemistry in school, yet I passed pharmacology in nursing college, and have served lots of medication in hospitals without killing anyone!

If success is measured based on wealth and fame, then I would be considered a failure. My job does not give me lots of money, but it gives me satisfaction and fulfillment.

If the criteria used to determine success is happiness,
fulfillment, the ability to contribute to society and independence,
then I think I have succeeded.

I can provide for myself with my own salary, and earn enough to enjoy my days off. Every day, different people walk into my life via my job and they fill my life with their stories. Their stories change me, and through my job, I change them.

Most of my patients have been injured in accidents. Their injuries are unwanted. Some of these injuries cause permanent damage and change their lives dramatically. Nurses have to be very good listeners. I have heard lots of stories from those who suffer a great deal due to permanent damages. I know of a young active teenage boy who lost his arm after being assaulted, a successful businessman who was paralyzed by a simple fall, a poly-arthritis lady who suffers pain at all times and can do nothing but swallow pain-killers… There are many others; each case I have seen reveals human characters, emotions that are hidden behind the injuries. It is these experiences that have helped me appreciate what I have today.

The years that I have spent serving as a nurse has made me grow tremendously. My thoughts and decisions have matured considerably, compared to my counterparts who are in other industries. My critical thinking skills and empathy have grown, and I am a better person because of my job.

I used to be the youngest spoilt child in my family,
the hot tempered, demanding and irritating girl at home.
But nursing has changed all of this.

You may find it hard to believe, but it’s true. When you watch someone die in front of you, and nothing can be done to save that person, you will realize life is fragile.

To all the AMC juniors out there… try to be as wise as your years will allow when making decisions. Gather information and listen to advice. But don’t follow popular trends when picking subjects or disciplines to study. Follow your heart. Let your gut tell you what to do, for it knows what you will like. If you do this, and you work hard, you will not regret it.

And remember, success is not to be defined by the world.
It is to be defined by yourself.

You get to choose what success means to you, because at the end of the day, when you look in the mirror, all you will see is yourself. You answer, to yourself.


Carmen Teh

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